As an emergency room physician, I was fortunate to receive my first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine within days of its approval. And for this I am grateful.

But as long as vaccines remain in short supply, I feel an obligation to continue to engage in measures to protect those who stand further down the immunization line: masking in public, social distancing, not hosting large indoor gatherings. But sooner or later – by the autumn, if we are fortunate – enough free vaccine will be available for any Americans willing to roll up their sleeves.

About the writer: Jacob M. Appel is director of Ethics Education in Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Baltimore, Maryland. Readers may email him at This column originally appeared in The Baltimore Sun. Distributed by the Tribune Content Agency.

(1) comment


The current Covid vaccine is still in Phase 3 trial and is considered an experimental drug. By no means should this be mandatory. Additionally, given the fact that it contains polyethylene glycol (PEG, causes anaphylaxis in some people, triggers autoimmune response in others) it should never be mandatory for anyone. The vaccine has not shown any sign of preventing viral transmission leaving an unvaccinated person at no greater risk of spreading illness than a vaccinated counterpart. Actually, an unvaccinated person would likely stay home if infected once showing symptoms whereas a vaccinated person would not show symptoms and possibly infect others. Finally, both Pfizer and Moderna are exempt from any liability from injury. When there is known risk, there must be choice. Peter Doshi's Jan 4th article in the British Medical Journal outlines many of these risks and interprets the data from Phase 2 trials.

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